Work of Worth: Bringing Hope to the Hopeless

God is big. So big.

It’s such a mystery that in His bigness, He cares about the details and loves each of us individually. He is our Jehovah Roi, the God who sees it all. Each little things in our lives is seen and pondered by our big, faithful God who loves us so dearly.

Last year I began stepping up my work with Freeset, a beautiful organization that serves the poor and abused in India by providing them employment with dignity. Freeset offers women trapped in the sex trade the opportunity to walk away from that life and walk into a life of freedom. It’s big work. God-sized work. Work which can only be accomplished one life at a time, one day at a time.

My friend Kristi led the US division of that organization faithfully. She imported goods from India made by the Freeset women, sold them in the US, and returned the money to India so that more women could be employed. That in itself was big work. That in itself was God-sized work. But God was up to something even bigger.

Work of Worth was established last year by Kristi, a friend, and a college student with a good idea. The basic idea is simple: buy goods from artisans in poverty, and sell them to eager customers in the US. “Social entrepreneurship” is the big title given to this business model. The Bible calls it being the Church. Bringing hope and sustenance to the hopeless and impoverished.

Besides having a good business model that addresses one of the issues Jesus talks about most, Work of Worth brings American consumers what they want: excellent goods at excellent prices. I’m happy to share a few of those items with you because I know you will love them and want to purchase a few things. My favorite items from Work of Worth have been curated here:

Work of Worth

First up on the top right is the Sari Infinity Scarf. These are handmade in Bangladesh, the MOST impoverished country in the world, from old saris. The terrific thing about these scarves is the rich colors. Simply gorgeous. They are infinity scarves, but the fabric is light a gauzy, so they aren’t too bulky around the neck. These are great in every color!

The Leather Tote Bag is like butter! It is handmade in India by a gentleman who is a true artisan. The bags enable him to provide for his family, and they are daily rising out of poverty into a life of dignity. These bags are the real deal. They are made from genuine leather that is hand-stitched. The Work of Worth website has several styles available, including a few styles for men.

Working clockwise, the next item is the Decopalm Journal. This jade and gold journal is 30 pages, and it is made from recycled paper. These are handmade in India, and are available in several patters for only $15 each.

The Tribal Meets Regal necklace looks great on the site, but is even more stunning in person. They are made from hand carved and hand dyed wooden beads. And don’t miss the clasp. The details on this necklace are spot on! It is available in black, cobalt blue, and pink salmon. Each color is deep and fabulous.

The Summer Orchard Necklace is 36″ long, so it is GREAT to wear over sweaters and collared blouses. The colors are bold, and the beads are chunky, so it is truly a statement necklace, even though it is simple.

The Gypsy Relic Necklace is a terrific layering piece, but it is fabulous as a stand-alone necklace as well. It is made from a mix of glass and pearl beads, with an antique-style coin pendant. You have, no doubt, seen similar necklaces in boutique shops, but they certainly weren’t $20.00!!! This bargain necklace supports women in poverty in India.

And finally, a closing statement from Work of Worth: Work of Worth is an organization dedicated to utilizing the power of commerce to free the oppressed throughout the world. WoW exists primarily as an import and distribution company, for the purpose of connecting entrepreneurs and businesses in the developing world to the Western market. The result becomes people of worth who are transformed, sustainably employed, changing the poverty cycle, and freed from trafficking. Work of Worth is devoted to philanthropic entrepreneurship in impoverished regions of the developing world through importing manufactured goods from entrepreneurs in the developing world to markets in the United States. WoW supports and promotes entrepreneurs dedicated to treating their employees with dignity, paying a fair wage, and transforming lives. Entrepreneurial philanthropy is bold enough to bring fair wages to the villages and cities of the developing world. We invite you to see their product offerings and value their work so that they may sustain a future for their family’s and future generations.

The Right Necklace for Necklines

Statement necklaces aren’t going anywhere. I, for one, am happy about this trend because bold accessories are a terrific way to liven up a neutral outfit. But if you are like me, and sometimes wonder which type of necklace to wear, check out this chart to help you choose the right necklace for necklines.

Necklace for Necklines Armed with the knowledge of how to best wear your accessories, you can pull together an outfit that accentuates your look in all the right ways. Feel free to pin this chart to Pinterest so you can refer back to it. Wear those statement necklaces well, friends!

Byrom Builders’ Parade Home in The Preserve

A few weeks back, the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders sponsored their annual Parade of Homes. I gave you a tour of the 2014 Ideal Home, but there were other homes on the parade that I knew you’d like to see as well. Byrom Builders, a local Birmingham company, had a lovely home in The Preserve, one of Hoover’s premier neighborhoods.

Homes in The Preserve are styled after classic American architecture. They are inviting and welcoming, and the Byrom home is no exception. When you walk in the front door, you are immediately enveloped in the open floor plan. The dining room is to your right, just waiting on a family dinner.

Adjoining the dining room is the light, bright kitchen.

With white cabinetry, marble countertops, and top of the line appliances, this kitchen is not only functional for a chef, but the looks is timeless and classic.

There is an amazing bar space that provides a hostess everything she needs for entertaining. The stone wall was stunning, as were the concrete countertops.

And it opens directly onto the family room. The family room is a large, open space with plenty of room for the family to gather.

Byrom paid very close attention to detail in this home.

There is a short hallway connecting the den to the master bedroom, which is the perfect space for a small chest and gorgeous painting.

The master suite was a dream!

The millwork could not have been more gorgeous!

alt="Byrom Builders"

alt="Byrom Builders"

But the crowning glory of the master suite was the closet. And by closet, I do mean a closet big enough to be a separate room. I die! Do you die?

alt="Byrom BUilders"

There were other gorgeous bedrooms…

alt="Byrom Builders"

And other gorgeous bathrooms…

alt="Byrom Builders"

alt="Byrom Builders"

alt="Byrom Builders"

alt="Byrom Builders"

alt="Byrom Builders"

There was a small office, just perfect for a busy mom to keep her things straight.

alt="Byrom Builders"

But if this home were the Hill Hangout, the space we would use most is this fabulous outdoor room. It was by far, the best outdoor space we saw on the entire Parade of Homes.

alt="Byrom Builders"

It was large and provided space for a sitting area.

alt="Byrom Builders"

There was also an outdoor kitchen and dining area.

alt="Byrom Builders"

alt="Byrom Builders"

Along with a massive stone fireplace to keep everyone warm on cool nights.

Again, this space had exquisite attention to detail!

alt="Byrom Builders"

I hope you enjoyed touring this home in The Preserve. The guys at Byrom did a fabulous job. I know there are lots of details that you want to keep in mind as you are making your own home a beautiful place of peace and rest for your family.

The Perfect Pair of Jeans

Megan Larussa Head Shot

My friend Megan LaRussa Chenowith, style coach and style blogger at Southern Femme, is back today for a short lesson on how to find the perfect pair of jeans. I admit, I don’t always know which jeans to hold onto and which have outlived their style. Thanks, Megan, for giving us the “cheat sheet” on this question! Here’s Megan…

Recently when cleansing a client’s closet this exact topic of denim came up.

We were sifting through a heaping pile of her jeans (most that she didn’t even wear anymore) and with each jean we looked at she turned to me and said, ‘well they fit, but are they even current?’.

It was an excellent question to ask because jean styles DO come and go, and even certain classic styles sometimes need to be put on the ‘keep but don’t wear now’ shelf in your closet.

This got me to thinking… if my clients are asking me these questions then other women must be wondering the same thing! So, if you have ever wondered what type of jeans to hold on to, which ones to wear, and which ones to toss, then this week’s Style Secrets with Megan video is for you!

How to Find the Perfect Pair of Jeans from Megan LaRussa on Vimeo.

Thanks as always for watching and happy jean shopping!

Yours in Style,

Megan

P.S. Need a lil extra style help this spring? Don’t forget I offer one-on-one Style Strategy Sessions to get you out of your style rut and into looking and feeling your best! Click HERE for my Style Yourself Chic in 30 Days program!

Finish Max Paint Sprayer Giveaway

UPDATE: This giveaway has now closed, and our winner is #22, Susanne! Congrats, Susanne!

A few weeks ago, I told you about the Finish Max paint sprayer by HomeRight. I used it to make over a $17 glider that I found at the thrift store, which eventually landed itself in the aTeam Ministries apartment. When I spotted the glider in the thrift store, I knew it has potential to become a place where mamas (or daddies) could rock a sweet little babe to sleep.

alt="Finish Max Sprayer"

All it took was a little elbow grease. I tightened up a few loose screws to give it stability. I used my Finish Max sprayer to spray it with chocolate brown paint to match the crib.

alt="Finish Max"

The Finish Max paint sprayer made this job super easy. I stitched a new cover for the pillow out of fabric I found on the clearance table at the fabric store. I was quite pleased with the way the glider looked after just a little effort.

alt="Finish Max Sprayer"

The gracious folks at HomeRight would like to give one of YOU a Finish Max paint sprayer! Isn’t that fun? I absolutely LOVE mine, and I have used it on several projects since I got it. You guys know how much I paint furniture, and the Finish Max has saved me HOURS of painting time. You just can’t beat a good paint sprayer when it comes to painting small cracks and crevices!

Leave me a comment and let me know what kind of painting project you need to tackle. I’ll randomly choose one winner next Friday to receive a Finish Max paint sprayer from HomeRight.

Don’t want to fool with entering the giveaway? No problem! You can order a Finish Max paint sprayer today!

Stitchfix: Your Questions Answered

A few months ago I signed up for Stitchfix. I’d heard about it around the internet and seen pictures of some really cute clothes, so I decided to take the plunge. My first Stitchfix box came Friday, and I was quite pleased with it. Since several people have asked about it, I wanted to give you the low-down in case you want to sign up for it, too.

The first step is to go to Stitchfix.com and fill out your style profile. They ask you a ton of questions so that they can get an idea of your size, shape, and style. Questions include things like your hair color, age, bra size, height, whether you like fitted or loose clothing, whether you prefer classic, Bohemian, romantic, or preppy styles. You get the idea. They’ll even show you several outfit collections and ask you to rate them. They ask you how often you attend dressy events, business casual events, casual events. They also give you the ability to choose a price range that you’d like to spend on items. And you can link your Pinterest fashion boards to your profile, and they really do check them out before they select your items.

Each month (or however often you specify) they will send you 5 items to try. You try them on and decide what to keep. If you send them all back, you are charged a $20 fee. If you keep one or more items, your $20 fee is applied to the item. If you keep all 5, you get 25% off everything.

Sounds great so far, right? But this kind of thing only works if you really, really like the items they send you. To give you an idea of what they would send, I’ll share a little of my profile:

  • I’m 5’2″.
  • I’m apple shaped, meaning I carry any excess weight in my stomach/bust area and not in my legs.
  • I prefer styles that are classic, preppy, bohemian chic, with a few pieces that are edgy. I do not usually choose pieces that are glamorous or romantic.
  • I’m a mom who typically wears laid back/casual clothes, but I’m looking to build up by dressy/business casual wardrobe.
  • I’d like to avoid wool.
  • My preferred price range for most clothing is $50-$100.
  • I sometimes like trying new trends and brands.
  • For my skin tone, I prefer to avoid clothing in yellows, navy, purple, or pinks.

And here are the items that I received in my first shipment:

alt="Stitchfix"

The pale green dolman sleeve top was cute, but fit a bit funny for me. I never could get it adjusted just right and felt like I fidgeted with it constantly. The white jeans were a dream. They had the perfect amount of stretch without falling down. The length was even perfect, which doesn’t happen often when you’re 5’2″. The handbag was cute and versatile. It was a different style than I’d normally choose for myself, which was kind of fun.

alt="stitchfix"

The flowy peach top was terrific. It was a gauzy fabric with beautiful stitching around the neckline. The white jeans are the same from the first picture. The same handbag is shown here, but I’ve removed the shoulder strap.

alt="Stitchfix"

The gold bar necklace was dainty and sweet. This would be a great versatile piece that you could wear everyday.

So here’s what I ended up with:

Green Knit Dolman Top: Sending back because the fit wasn’t right. Great color, though, and I’d love to have something else this color.
White Jeans: It pains me to say it, but I’m sending these back. I already own white jeans and can’t justify buying another pair. I asked for these same jeans in another color in a future shipment.
Peach top: Sending back because it was a little sing in the bust line. I really loved this top and told them to send similar items in future shipments.
Handbag: Sending back. It was a great color and a new style for me, but Jonathan gave me a really nice handbag in this color last year.
Gold Bar Necklace: Sending back. While it is a great piece, it’s a little too dainty for me. I need chunkier necklaces. If you look in the two outfit photos, you can’t even see that I’m wearing the necklace. A small dainty necklace just doesn’t show up on my.

All in all, even though I’m sending it all back, I feel like the stylists nailed my style. We just need to work on getting the correct fit. I have to say, it was really fun seeing what a stylist would choose for me. There were several pieces I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, and it was fun to step outside of my box a little bit. I got notice that my June items have already been chosen, and I am super excited to see what they send next time!!

If Stitchfix looks like something you’d like to try, go to the Stitchfix website and start filling in your style profile. They have a great referral program, as well. For each friend who you bring to Stitchfix, they give you a $25 credit to apply to your purchases. (That’s why those are affiliate links.) Y’all get to Stitchfixing. I want to see pictures of what they send you!

Swoozie’s Grand Re-Opening

If you’re local to Birmingham, you might want to check out the grand re-opening going on this Saturday at Swoozie’s. Swoozie’s is one of my go-to spots for printed invitations, cute party supplies, tween gifts, and baby shower happies. They are staying in the Summit, but they’ve moved down by Bed, Bath, and Beyond. This means they have tons of parking – one of the problems of their old location.They are hosting an open house at their new location on Saturday, May 3rd, from 11:00-2:00. They will serve mimosas, give away door prizes, and have lots of discounts.

Swoozie’s hosted a preview party for bloggers on Wednesday night, and I stopped by to see their new inventory. I wanted this sign for my home. Isn’t that sweet?

sign

Lilly Pulitzer was well represented in the party supplies!

lilly

As always, they had tons of cute bags. Many of these can be monogrammed.

bags

They had a gorgeous line of frames. These came in a variety of colors, including pink and blue for the bebes.

frame

And these chew beads are my new baby gift! They are made of a soft rubbery material that is great for teething babies to chew on. I’d totally wear these even though we have long since moved on from that stage at our house!!

chew beads

Y’all stop by Swoozie’s and congratulate them on their new place. It’s going to be much more comfortable and convenient for everybody!

aTeam Apartment Reveal: Dining Room and Den

It’s time for the final reveal of the aTeam Ministries apartment. We have already shown you the children’s bedroom and the master suite, so today it’s time to take a look at the dining room and den. Generous donors had already given much of the furniture for this space, including a dining room table and chairs, a sofa, a loveseat, and a coffee table. Most of what I did in this space was to accessorize and add a couple of new pieces of furniture. One of the kindest and most beautiful donations aTeam received was this breathtaking angel painting.

ateam apartment

It is HUGE – probably 5 ft x 5 ft. It is fabulous in the living space, and such a constant reminder that God’s presence is with us and He sends His angels to minister to us. This piece became the anchor around which we chose the rest of the furnishings. We used the existing brown sofa and loveseat, but threw in new throw pillows and blankets to give the room a splash of color.

ateam apartment

We still needed a little something to anchor the room, and so the generous folks at Mohawk Flooring donated yet another rug – this one a large rug to fit the space. The colors and pattern could not have been more perfect. We wanted to create a warm, inviting, comfortable space, and this rug helped pull that look together!

ateam apartment

A few weeks before we started this project, the ladies at More Than A Mission Trip asked for suggestions on what kinds of projects they could help support. I spoke up immediately on behalf of aTeam, and they were kind enough to choose us as one of their charities. They sent us the money to buy this beautiful red desk. Families who stay at the apartment now have a place to do school work, work on the computer, pay bills, write notes, or whatever else they need to do. Thank you More Than A Mission Trip!!

ateam ministries

As we move into the dining area, there are many more generous donations. Someone gave the table and chairs that we used.

ateam apartment

FLOR Carpet Tiles sent us a box of carpet tiles to make a rug. I’ve never used these before, but was so surprised at how simple they were to put together. My little bit helped me lay out the pattern I wanted, and then we taped them on the under side using the heavy duty stickers that come in the set.

aTeam apartment

Once we had them all taped together, we flipped it over and put it in place under the table.

ateam apartment

It took us about 10 minutes to put it together, and we even have leftover squares to use as spares.

Y’all, I could never have imagined a project like this coming together without so many generous sponsors. I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve aTeam in this way. If you’re looking for an easy way to support aTeam further, check out their online store where you can purchase awesome t-shirts. You can also become a volunteer, be a prayer partner, or make a financial donation. God bless you as you support them and God bless aTeam as they continue to support pediatric cancer families.

aTeam Apartment Reveal: Master Bedroom and Bath

A couple of months ago, we introduced you to our partnership with aTeam Ministries. aTeam was started a few years ago by our friends Jan and Andy Thrower. After their son went through pediatric cancer (and is now a happy, healthy six year old), Andy and Jan became aware of the unique and overwhelming challenges that pediatric cancer families endure. The horrendous experience of childhood leaves parents in emotional, spiritual, financial, and sometimes physical despair. aTeam seeks to minister to these families by providing services care bags when kids are unexpectedly hospitalized and parents haven’t packed a bag, family fun days at Alabama and Auburn (even meeting the team on some occasions), and financial aid with groceries, gas, medicine, and bills. They meet every week to pray for the children and their families. Their home away from home program provides a place to stay while families are in Birmingham for their children to receive treatment. That’s where we came in.

We were so happy to have the opportunity to help aTeam collect furnishings for the new place. We revealed the children’s bedroom to you a few weeks back. Today, we are ready to give you a look at the master bedroom and bathroom. We really tried to create a space that was not only beautiful, but also functional. We wanted parents to have a quiet, comfortable place to unwind after a long day at the clinic or hospital.

A generous donor gave us money for the master bedroom bedding. We definitely could not pull off a project like this without the financial support of private and corporate donors, and the friends of aTeam Ministries really came through for us.

ateam apartment

Since most of the people staying in the aTeam apartment aren’t there for long, we wanted to give plenty of place to store luggage.

ateam apartment

My sister-in-law Cecily Hill Lowe, who is a very talented artist, generously gave us two of her latest paintings for the master bedroom. They are calm and peaceful, and they looked perfect in the space.

ateam apartment

Since the parents will not need the HUGE master closet in the apartment, we opted for turning it into a nursery. We have lots of families that have babies, and having a nursery allows parents and babies to stay with their regular sleeping arrangements instead of trying to sleep together in the same room. We all know how little sleep a parent gets with a small baby sleeping in the room.

ateam apartment

And many thanks to the sweet folks at HomeRight for sending me a Finish Max paint sprayer, which I used on a fun little project for the nursery. Every nursery needs a rocker, right? I found a diamond in the rough at the thrift store that I knew would be perfect with just a little elbow grease.

ateam apartment

The Finish Max sprayer made this job really simple. I gave it a fresh coat of paint to match the crib and pieced together a new cover for the cushions. And I do mean PIECED together! I am no seamstress!! But I do love the way it looked when finished, and I love the fact that mamas and babies now have a quiet little corner.

ateam apartment

And finally, the master bathroom. The master bath is a large space that is already well decorated. It has lovely dark wood cabinets, great granite, and beautiful tile. It only took a few finishing touches to make it complete.

ateam apartment

ateam apartment

The shower curtain was a gift from a generous donor. The rug was a generous gift from Mohawk Flooring. They were so kind to donate several rugs for the apartment, including both of the bath rugs, and another special piece I’ll show you later.

ateam apartment

Thanks so much to the major sponsors to these rooms: Cecily Hill Lowe, HomeRight, and Mohawk Flooring. We also thank the private donors who provided the bedding, shower curtains, and accessories. We definitely could not have provided such a nice place to pediatric cancer families without all of you chipping in!

Birmingham Parade of Homes

alt=" Birmingham Parade of Homes"

This weekend I had the privilege of spending a few hours at the 2014 Birmingham Parade of Homes Ideal Home. It is an absolutely stunning home in the Ross Bridge neighborhood of Hoover, and it was built by Murphy Home Builders. The incredible interiors on this home were a joint project between the builder and interior designer Bee Martin Little at Set to Sell Staging. I promised you a full tour last week, so without further ado…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

As you enter the home through the foyer, the formal dining room is immediately to your left. Though it is considered the “formal” dining room, the room’s relaxed feel makes it much more comfortable and inviting than a traditional stuffy dining room.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The color of the walls is Sherwin Williams’s Intellectual Grey, and it is accented by a beautiful patterned tone-on-tone wallpaper on one accent wall.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

And it is crowned with a lovely tray ceiling and two gorgeous lantern pendants.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

Connecting the dining room to the kitchen is a wonderful butler’s pantry.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

Though a butler’s pantry is typically a small room, even the smallest details received attention.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The butler’s pantry leads you into the to-die-for kitchen.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

Can’t you imagine entertaining family and friends in this gorgeous and well-planned space?

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The kitchen adjoins the family room.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

And just off the back side of the kitchen and family room is a lovely breakfast room that has windows on three sides. Oh, the beautiful natural light in this cozy space!

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

This built-in bench provides a ton of seating!

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

Just out the back door is a lovely outdoor room, complete with lots of seating, a TV, and a fireplace to warm the space on cool nights.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The master bedroom suite is a calm, peaceful retreat. It would be the perfect space to end a long day.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The gorgeous paint color is Sherwin Williams’s Sea Salt.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The artwork in the room ties it all together wonderfully.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

And the room is toped off with this beautiful tray ceiling with white-washed pine planks and distressed chandelier.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The bedrooms flows right into the master bath, which is a lovely combination of marble, tile, beautiful fixtures, and bold pattern.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

Heading downstairs, there is a man cave with another complete kitchen.

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The downstairs area also features a large media room, a small game room, a guest bedroom, and a full bathroom. Upstairs boasts, several bedrooms (I lost count. Maybe four??), an additional kids’ media room, and several more bathrooms. Needless to say, there is plenty of room in this home for family and guests. But the things that make it so special are the details.

Like the wallpaper accent wall in the guest bathroom…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The drink fridge in the kitchen island…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The detail on the interior doors…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The stunning light fixtures…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

The octagon tile in the kids’ bath…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

And the stamped and stained concrete sidewalk…

alt="Birmingham Parade of Homes"

Somebody is going to be very happy raising their family in this home!

The Parade of Homes continues next weekend, April 12 and 13, from 10:00-6:00 on Saturday and 1:00-6:00 on Sunday. There are 77 homes on the Parade this year, so get out and see as many of them as you can.